NOTE TO THE READER: (Or should that be “WARNING?)
The only time this account had been sent to a print publisher, the person assigned to read and assess disappeared along with my manuscript. The publisher (Women’s Redress Press) apologised but had no way of contacting their reader. The best feedback I have received from on-line versions of this account has been fulsome gratitude from a woman who thanked me for putting these words down. She was able to use my story as an example of what it was she was experiencing but unable to articulate. As a result her husband and family finally had an understanding of what it is to experience the bi-polar condition.
Two persons to whom I had given a hard copy to read told me that it kept them up late into the night. Their feedback was that they found the style strange at first, but once they realised where the journey was taking them, it was enjoyable. I am not sure whether this was due to enthralling prose or, more probably, a lack of division into chapters. This is a relentless read – not unlike the condition itself. I now realise that the structure of this account is a microcosmic experience of being bi-polar.
Since first writing this account (1990), I accepted lithium as a mood stabiliser to avoid ever having another manic episode. I had learned (as you will discover) how to handle the deepest of depressions, but the magic of mania is both delightful and destructive. Now of an age when it is deemed unlikely to experience mania (I could not stay awake long enough!) I can look back on the fourteen years of lithium and be grateful for the stability it brought into my life. Read and enjoy – or, if nothing else, be glad to be yourself.
And I thought I was quick on the uptake.
Then the penny dropped.
One of Life’s profound truths.
The pieces had been there all along.
What a blind fool not to have seen the answer sooner.
An undertaker opened the training course on handling grief. Sixteen of us had volunteered for the Sudden Death Support Group at Flinders Medical Centre in Adelaide. We all had first hand experience. He talked of his feelings after the death of his son. His fear of going mad, tipping over the edge, going round the bend, of having a breakdown, losing his mind. None roused any fear in me.
I told him that I heard what he was saying and that going mad was not so bad. As with the fear of anything, the fear of going mad is worse than the event. He said he didn’t realise he had been telegraphing this message. It had not been his intention to do so. Not going mad was a choice he had made.
I had never considered that there had been any choice at those times when I have quietly, and sometimes not so quietly, gone mad. Insane. Flipped my lid. Whatever you want to call it. Fear ? When you are there, in a world completely of your own making who is there to fear? Your self? Your hidden self? Your “real” self?